The Latest: Utility regulator says pole inspections arduous - InfoNews

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The Latest: Utility regulator says pole inspections arduous

FILE - This Nov. 15, 2018, aerial file photo shows the remains of residences leveled by the Camp wildfire in Paradise, Calif. Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. is expected to file for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
January 30, 2019 - 4:38 PM

SAN FRANCISCO - The Latest a U.S. judge's proposals to try to prevent Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. equipment from causing more wildfires (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

California's top utility regulator says it would take as many as 20,000 new workers to inspect every utility pole and wire in the state.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker says that won't work, but regulators may turn to drones to monitor the equipment.

Picker spoke about wildfire safety efforts and Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.'s bankruptcy to lawmakers at a hearing in Sacramento on Wednesday.

The PUC regulates investor-owned utilities. It is considering replacing PG&E's board, breaking up its gas and electric divisions or other big changes in a review that will likely take a year. Picker says the PUC has learned fines alone haven't been enough for PG&E to change its behaviour.

Lawmakers questioned whether the PUC is acting fast enough to prevent future wildfire damage.

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11:30 a.m.

A federal judge in San Francisco has determined that Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. violated its probation in a criminal case stemming from a deadly 2010 gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.

At a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup upheld a finding that PG&E failed to notify probation officials that a prosecutor's office had opened a full investigation into the utility's role in a 2017 California wildfire.

He said he would set a sentencing date later.

Kate Dyer, an attorney for PG&E, says the company had communicated with probation officials and didn't hear until recently that it had fallen short.

Alsup is overseeing a criminal conviction against PG&E on pipeline safety charges stemming from a deadly gas line explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010.

He is considering imposing major new conditions as part of PG&E's probation to try to prevent the utility's equipment from causing more wildfires.

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10:55 a.m.

A federal judge is berating Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. at a hearing to determine whether he should order the company to take major steps to try to prevent more wildfires.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco told attorneys for the company Wednesday that safety was not PG&E's No. 1 priority and the company could have spent more money to trim trees to prevent wildfires.

Alsup is overseeing a criminal conviction against PG&E on pipeline safety charges stemming from a deadly gas line explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010.

He previously proposed as part of PG&E's probation that it remove or trim all trees that could fall onto its power lines in high-wind conditions and shut off power at times when fire is a risk.

An attorney for PG&E, Reid Shar, said the company was not offering platitudes when it said safety was its No. 1 goal.

Wildfire damage has become a multibillion-dollar liability for the utility. The company filed for bankruptcy Tuesday in the face of hundreds of lawsuits from victims of wildfires.

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8:30 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. will be back in a U.S. courtroom a day after filing for bankruptcy.

The nation's largest utility will try to convince a judge at a hearing Wednesday not to order dramatic steps aimed at preventing its equipment from causing more wildfires.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup is overseeing a criminal conviction against PG&E on pipeline safety charges stemming from a deadly gas line explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010.

He proposed earlier this month as part of its probation that PG&E remove or trim all trees that could fall onto its power lines in high-wind conditions and shut off power at certain times. PG&E shot back in a court filing that the judge's proposals would endanger lives and could cost as much as $150 billion.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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